Greens, independents demand NBN Co business plan

The document was sent to Conroy and Finance Minister Penny Wong last week

The Greens and key independent MPs have requested that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy table the business plan which has been delivered to the Government by NBN Co.

The document was sent to Conroy and Finance Minister Penny Wong last week, according to a media release issued by NBN Co. It contains key details of how the company plans to roll out the National Broadband Network and even financial calculations about the Government’s investment in the infrastructure.

Yesterday, Greens Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam indicated in the Senate that he would move on the next day of sitting — today — that Conroy table the document to the Senate today, as well as the Government’s long-awaited response to the NBN implementation study carried out by consulting firms McKinsey and KPMG.

Key independents also backed the call.

“I would love to have at my disposal, right here, right now, a business case from NBN Co,” said Rob Oakeshott in the House of Representatives yesterday. “It is unfortunate that we are having this debate as legislators who are unable to make decisions about issues such as competition, while deep in the bowels of government — despite nearly two months of public rhetoric saying that a business case would be available, it remains unavailable to us as legislators.”

“I also ask the Government to expedite the business plan,” Oakeshott added. “It is necessary for the public debate to be a real debate and for truth to be separated from fiction.”

Fellow MP Tony Windsor told Lateline last night that he also wanted to see the document.

“I think everybody’d like to see it,” he said. “I’m told some very good results in it, so I’d be hopeful that the document would be available. I’m told it’s a live document now, that it hasn’t gone through the Cabinet. And I think it would be appropriate if the people in the Parliament — they’re the ones who paid for it — would actually have a look at it.”

Conroy was not involved in the debate yesterday, according to Hansard transcripts, but has previously said that sections of the business case would be made public.

Ludlam — who previously forced Conroy to release the Implementation Study earlier this year — told the ABC yesterday that it would be “a pretty serious thing to do” if Conroy did not obey a Senate order (if the Greens’ motion is successful) to release the business case.

“Most of the time these requests actually are adhered to, most of the time they’re respected,” he said. “There have been occasions including by this minister on an NBN-related document where one has been resisted. And so I’m hoping this one doesn’t fall into that category.”

“But if it is, we’re also negotiating a proposal that would make it much more difficult for a minister to simply thumb his nose at orders like this.”

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